Rain to a Waterfall

The factory-girl black women she worked with
at Inland Manufacturing in Dayton, Ohio
too their breaks in the backseats of cars, had sex
in the afternoon and at dinner break. Which meant
they were whores, to hear my mother tell it. Divorced,
with kids, a woman alone in 1964, she had to earn
a living—this before the Women’s Movement
and anything like equal pay, when a job meant

a factory job, since it was the only sort of work
carried with it a wage you could live on, provided
you didn’t buy nice clothes or go out with men
who might or might not pick up a check without
expecting something from you. She tells me this
as if clearing her conscience for calling these women
anything but women with a hard road to walk
and guts to walk it. Which is to say she respects

now what they did then, these women whose men
had better things to do than raise kids and pay bills
and keep a house running and put food on the table.
It’s a truth made of practically all suffering, her truth,
and we could use more of this grudging acknowledgment
that what the rest of the world calls living should be
fine by us. It’s rain to a waterfall, that hate,
but it’s weighed on her and she wants rid of it.

:: Roy Bentley, Strange Privacies (2006)

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